Palestinians sue pro-Israel tycoons for $34.5bn

Damages sought from Sheldon Adelson and others for financing construction of settlements on Palestinian soil.

Palestinians have a poor track record for winning in US civil courtrooms

New York, US – A group of Palestinians has launched an ambitious $34.5bn lawsuit against United States-based tycoons, charities and firms for supporting Israeli land grabs, settlement-building and other violations of Palestinians’ rights these past four decades.

They seek damages from  Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino magnate, Irving Moskowitz, a philanthropist with property interests in East Jerusalem, and megachurch pastor John Hagee for financing the construction of settlements on Palestinian soil.

Lawyers also name such charities as Christian Friends of Israeli Communities and private firms, including Dead Sea-based cosmetics maker Ahava, UK-based security firm G4S and the industrial powerhouse Israel Chemicals Limited.

“We’re not in this for the money, but we’ll probably pick the pockets of some very wealthy corporations,” Martin McMahon, a lawyer for the complainants from the firm Martin McMahon and Associates, told Al Jazeera on Monday.

“It’s about time that the world woke up to the fact that Palestinians are being murdered every day with US taxpayer dollars.”

The case is brought by Bassem al-Tamimi, an activist, and about 35 other Palestinians and Palestinian Americans who say they have seen their loved ones killed by Israeli forces and lost their land to settlers and business and construction schemes.

They allege five counts of conspiracy, war crimes, aggravated trespass, pillage and racketeering via various legal mechanisms, including laws against organised crime and US entities linked with overseas human rights abuses.

Al Jazeera contacted Adelson, Hagee and some of the four dozen charities, firms and individuals named in the case but spokespeople were not immediately able to comment.

The suit was filed in the Federal District Court of Washington DC on Monday.

The pro-Palestinian lawyers said that they expected protracted legal arguments over the court’s jurisdiction and potential dismissal proceedings.

A trial, possibly by jury, would probably not take place for five years, they said.

“We have cases going that have lasted 13 years, so we are used to long cases,” Jameson Fox, another lawyer for the Palestinians, told Al Jazeera.

In a statement, al-Tamimi, said that he was tortured and jailed for staging protests at Halamish, a West Bank settlement.

Doaa Abu-Amar, another complainant, lost 14 family members when Israeli forces bombed a day-care centre during the 2009 assault on Gaza, it is claimed.

Ahmed al-Zeer was beaten and left disabled by settlers who attacked him outside the settlement of Ofra, it is claimed.

Susan Abulhawa, another complainant and poet, said she sought official recognition of Palestinian suffering.

“I want a court, somewhere, somehow, to hold accountable those who have financed my pain of dispossession and exile and to hold accountable the financiers of Israel’s wholesale theft of another people’s historic, material, spiritual, and emotional presence in the world,” Abulhawa said in a statement.

Palestinians have a poor track record for winning in US civil courtrooms.

Pro-Palestinian lawyers suffered a setback in New York in February 2015, when jurors awarded $218.5m in damages against the Palestinian leadership and blamed it for terror attacks in Israel that killed or wounded American citizens a decade previously.

Pro-Israel lawyers chalked up another victory in New York last year, when jurors agreed that Jordan’s Arab Bank was liable for materially supporting Hamas.

A US class action suit against Avi Dichter, Israel’s former security chief, over a one-tonne bomb hitting a Gaza City apartment block in 2002, failed in the US after Dichter was granted immunity from prosecution.

Palestinian lawyers complain that US jurors are biased. A Gallup opinion survey last month found that 62 percent of Americans sympathise with Israelis compared to 15 percent who side with Palestinians.

McMahon said that unconditional support for Israel was waning.

“Forty per cent of Jewish Americans condemn settlements so there is a complete reversal going on in America against tolerating these actions from the Israeli government, and our law suit apparently is a vehicle for those who are completely frustrated by that process,” McMahon said.

George Bisharat, a Palestinian-American law professor at California University, described a growing number of so-called lawfare cases between Israelis and Palestinians, where courts are used in part to sway public opinion.

“I’m sceptical of courts and their willingness to be politically daring and would put the odds of this case winning at less than 50 per cent,” Bisharat told Al Jazeera.

“As a matter of publicity, there is great potential to be exploited here. Palestinian have not effectively explored all of their legal remedies or been artful in managing cases, so there is untapped potential there.”

(Source / 08.03.2016)

Group demands an end to all abuses against women journalists

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PNN/ Ramallah/

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms “MADA” sent its warmest greetings for all Palestinian women journalists, and all women in Palestine and across the globe, on this occasion that marks the International Women’s Day.

On this occasion MADA center reassured the urgent need to eliminate all forms of violations against women journalists, following a significant escalation of violations committed especially by the Israeli Occupation Forces during the recent months of last year, while covering the events of the popular rising across the West Bank.

Women journalists also face violations by Palestinian parties, in addition to discrimination that results in banning them from holding leading roles in media outlets.

MADA Center produced last year a special report about violations against women journalists, since the beginning of 2010 till the end of 2014, where 103 violations were committed against them, the most serious and dangerous ones were committed by IOF with a total percentage of ( 64%), and (36%) were committed by Palestinian parties.

“MADA” on this special day saluted all women journalists for all their achievements, and dedication in work, despite all socio-economic and political difficulties in Palestine.

Finally, “MADA” emphasized the urgent need to stop all abuses, and to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women journalists, and to empower them to hold leading and senior positions is Palestinian media outlets.

(Source / 08.03.2016)

UN: Israeli demolition of Palestinian houses is ‘alarming’

UN: Israeli occupation demolished houses during first 10 weeks of 2016 more than all demolished along 2015

United Nations has said that Israeli razing of Palestinian homes and other buildings constructed with international aid at an

Israeli occupation usually destroys the structures under the pretext that they are built illegally, but aid groups say obtaining necessary permits is nearly impossible

Days of Palestine, New York -United Nations has said that Israeli razing of Palestinian homes and other buildings constructed with international aid at an “alarming” rate.

Recent UN figures showed that the Israeli occupation authorities have carried out more demolitions so far this year than in all of 2015.

The Israeli occupation has demolished 121 structures funded partly or fully by international donors in the occupied West Bank from the beginning of 2016 until March 2, surpassing the 108 from all of 2015.

Humanitarian Coordinator for the Palestinian Territories Robert Piper said: “We have already surpassed the total number of humanitarian aid items destroyed or confiscated in all of 2015, in just the first 10 weeks of 2016.”

Israeli occupation usually destroys the structures under the pretext that they are built illegally, but aid groups say obtaining necessary permits is nearly impossible.

Piper attributed the rise in the figure to several factors, including a “renewed push to advance settlement expansion plans in these areas.”

More than half a 700,000 illegal Israeli settlers live in over 120 illegal settlements built in the occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

(Source / 08.03.2016)

3 Palestinians killed in 3 separate anti-occupation attacks

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)–Three Palestinians were shot and killed Tuesday afternoon after they carried out separate anti-occupation attacks in occupied Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Yafa. The three attacks resulted in the killing of one Israeli police officer and the wounding of 13 others. The first anti-occupation attack was carried out near the port in the Arab city of Yafa within the Green Line, when a Palestinian was shot dead after he stabbed to death one Israeli officer and wounded ten others. In Tel Aviv, a Palestinian was shot and killed after he stabbed and wounded an Israeli settler near Petah Tikva settlement east of Tel Aviv. Yediot Ahranot Hebrew newspaper said that an “Arab terrorist” stabbed a Jewish Israeli in his mid-30s “in the upper part of his body,” leaving him with light to moderate injuries. Israeli police forces arrived at the scene and shot dead the Palestinian, the sources said, adding that Israeli forces closed the area for investigation. A video appeared in different social networking sites showed a bleeding Palestinian young man, believed to be the attacker, lying on the ground while Israeli bystanders hurl verbal abuses at him. The young man was left bleeding on the ground for long hours till he breathed his last. In occupied Jerusalem, two Israeli soldiers were seriously injured when a Palestinian fired gunshots at a group of soldiers stationed near Salah al-Din neighborhood. The Israeli forces opened fire at the Palestinian shooter, seriously injuring him before he was then pronounced dead. Earlier Tuesday, a Palestinian woman was fatally shot by the Israeli occupation soldiers near al-Aqsa Mosque allegedly after she attempted to stab an occupation soldier.  Local sources said the Israeli soldiers fired multiple shots at 50-year-old Fadwa Ahmad Abu Teir and prevented the ambulance crew from reaching the scene to evacuate the casualty to hospital. Fadwa was reportedly left bleeding on the ground until she breathed her last.  Since the outbreak of Jerusalem Intifada at the beginning of October last year, 194 Palestinians have been shot and killed by Israelis including 44 children and nine women. 450 Palestinians were also injured by Israeli forces and settlers during the same period.

(Source / 08.03.2016)

Anti-Siege Movement values efforts to send women’s boat to Gaza

CANADA, (PIC)– The National Anti-Siege and Reconstruction Movement Commission has expressed its appreciation for the efforts being made by the Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) to launch a Women’s Boat to Gaza (WBG) campaign. In a press release, the commission said that this campaign would be an important addition to all endeavors aimed at breaking the Israeli naval blockade on Gaza and supporting the Palestinian people’s right to have a seaport. The FFC has chosen March 8th, which marks International Women’s Day, to announce the launch of their WBG campaign. The anti-siege women-only boat will set sail for Gaza in mid-September and dock at a number of Mediterranean ports during its voyage to besieged Gaza. The boat will carry aboard notable women from all over the world.

(Source / 08.03.2016)

With spread of IS-like tactics, urban warfare in Turkey grows bloodier

Fighters from the People’s Protection Units ride on a pickup truck during what they said was an offensive against Islamic State militants, south of Kobani, Dec. 26, 2015

In the middle of heavy clashes Feb. 19 between Turkish security forces and groups affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Diyarbakir’s Sur district came news that a building had collapsed. Three special forces soldiers in the building were killed. Official statements did not make clear what happened.

Security sources, however, told newspapers that the building had collapsed when a booby trap exploded.

The incident reminded observers of another on June 25, when Mishtenur Hospital, which had been held by the Islamic State, was blown up by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) with all the people in it.

The techniques used were similar. But where had the Feb. 19 attackers learned these tactics? The force involved was the PKK’s youth wing, the Civil Defense Units (YPS) — previously known as the Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement.

A YPS fighter who uses the alias Xebat offered some clues when he answered questions from a Le Monde reporter at Nusaybin. Xebat said he had come back to Turkey after fighting at Kobani. “We are applying here what we learned at Kobani. [There], we learned urban warfare. Tunnels, barricades, roadside bombs and booby traps. We learned them all at Kobani,” he said.

In press photographs of the clashes in the southeast, there are clear similarities with the Kobani battle such as booby-trapped streets, using screens and drapes against snipers and aerial reconnaissance and passages between houses and backyards for safe movement. These tactics, which the Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan) YPG had used against IS, are now used by the YPS against Turkish security forces. Turkish officials are saying the fighters they are facing in the southeast are either YPG militants or YPG trained.

Journalist Ismail Eskin, who spent two years in Syria, including two months at Kobani during the clashes, told Al-Monitor there is a long list of similarities between the battles fought be the YPG and the YPS. Eskin said trenches were dug in and around Kobani before the clashes began and the course of the battles changed with the arrival of a group known as Al Akrad, which is experienced in urban warfare.

“Al Akrad, which was active in Aleppo, is made up of Kurds, Turkmens and Arabs. The first thing they did at Kobani was to hang huge drapes across streets and set up booby traps. The drapes blocked the sight of the enemy snipers and the facilitated movement of people and Kobani fighters. That is what we are seeing at Sur now. They opened holes in house walls with sledgehammers for safe movement,” he said.

Eskin said some of the fighters who fought with the YPG are now in Turkey, which is why the Kobani tactics are being seen there. “Al Akrad showed the YPG where and how to place explosives. There was no training given, but a sharing of experiences. I see people who had fought in Kobani in the streets of Cizre, Sur and Silvan. They were not YPG or PKK, but simple residents of Silvan who had responded to the YPG call for fighters,” he added. “After the liberation of Kobani, they returned home and went on with their lives. Now they are with the YPS. They use not only YPG but also IS tactics. Their techniques of preparing explosives and booby traps, especially those concealed in the trenches, are all IS methods.”

Another witness is journalist Kerem Celik, who spent two months in Kobani making a documentary film. He also thinks the course of the battles changed with the arrival of Al Akrad from Aleppo. He explained, “Initially there was a lot of inexperience in Kobani. There were no professionals. First they dug ditches around the town. The course of the battles was changed by that group, which had fought against IS at Aleppo. They knew all about urban warfare from their experience at Aleppo. They transferred their experience to Rojava fighters.”

Celik points to two key reasons why the battle changed course when Al Akrad arrived, saying, “In the Middle East, houses are built close to each other. They dug channels to connect the houses and their yards to avoid sniper fire. The second was the hanging of drapes across streets. There is no building higher than four or five stories in Kobani. Those who had the roofs of such buildings or other dominating features had the edge with their snipers. The ditches and drapes prevented IS’ heavy weapons from entering, so they had to send in their fighters, who were then killed easily. With the holes they bored through walls of buildings, Kobani’s defenders enabled fighters to move safely and attack IS unexpectedly.”

It would not be an exaggeration, Celik said, to claim that a single blanket probably saved the lives of 300 people. It was a great defense against snipers. Aleppo fighters also taught local fighters how to booby-trap a building.

Celik noted other similarities between the tactics of YPG and YPS, saying, “Look, the YPS is present in towns as Nusaybin, Cizre and Kiziltepe, which are neighbors of Rojava. That is how they learned the combat techniques of both the YPG and IS. Most of their experience is derived from personal observations, although they may have received some training in preparing ambushes. Many of them had gone to Kobani and returned. Before Kobani, nobody knew of hanging drapes. In the old days they used to prepare Molotov cocktails; now they produce [improvised explosive devices]. You cannot underestimate the role of those who had gone to Kobani to fight.”

Even if there are no direct links between the YPG and the YPS, it is obvious that they learned each other’s techniques. And their results are the same: mass migration and destruction. Just look at Sur and other hot spots.

(Source / 08.03.2016)

Israel destroys home of Palestinian killed after suspected car-ramming

Palestinians wait in front of the rubble of a destroyed house after Israeli forces demolished the homes of two Palestinians behind attacks in occupied East Jerusalem, on Oct. 6, 2015

HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli forces early Tuesday demolished the interior walls of a home belonging to a Palestinian killed after reportedly running his car into Israeli border police, one of whom later died from their wounds.Locals told Ma’an that dozens of Israeli soldiers stormed the Nimra neighborhood of the occupied West Bank city of Hebron and surrounded a two-story house belonging to the Skafi family.The soldiers then manually demolished the interior walls of an apartment on the second floor of the house where Ibrahim Skafi, 22, lived.Israeli forces shot Skafi dead on Nov. 4 after he reportedly ran his vehicle into Israeli border police stationed at the al-Hawawir junction near Halhul in the Hebron district, injuring two.One of the officers, identified as Benjamin Yaakovovich, 19, died days later from his wounds.The destruction of Skafi’s home was the most recent to be carried out through Israel’s policy of punitive demolition.The measure, which legalizes the destruction of homes belonging to Palestinians who carry out attacks or are suspected of carrying out attacks on Israelis, has been slammed by the international community as collective punishment, illegal under international law.

According to Human Rights Watch, punitive demolitions were halted in 2005 following an Israeli military report that the practice did not deter attackers but instead increased hostility against Israel.
The practice was resumed in 2014 — with the exception of one demolition in 2009 — and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following an increase in attacks in October called to shorten the legal process necessary to carry out punitive demolitions.Dozens of punitive demolitions have been carried out since in what Israeli rights group B’Tselem labelled in October as “court-sanctioned revenge.”While the Israeli PM vowed in October to bring to justice anyone — Palestinian or Israeli — who carries out violent attacks, punitive demolitions are implemented solely on Palestinian homes.
Palestinian ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour last month said in a statement that numerous families have been rendered homeless due to the practice.”Surely, such violations can only provoke more rage towards the occupation and further inflame tensions and hatred,” Mansour said.

Photo of Skafi home on March 8, 2016
(Source / 08.03.2016)

Gaza women pay heavy price for Israeli siege

Palestinian activist says women taking full brunt of Israeli blockade on Gaza

Gaza women pay heavy price for Israeli siege

GAZA CITY, Palestine

Millions of women from around the world marked International Women’s Day on Tuesday, but the occasion was a bitter moment in the lives of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian women in the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip.

“Women in Gaza suffer from tough economic and psychological conditions,” Haifa al-Agha, Palestinian Minister for Women’s Affairs, told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday. “They are paying a heavy price for the decade-long Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip.”

Israel has imposed a crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip since Hamas swept the Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006.

The siege has worsened all aspects of livelihood in the Palestinian territory, home to around 1.9 million people.

Since the blockade was imposed, Israel has mounted three deadly offensives on the Gaza Strip, which left thousands of Palestinians dead.

In late 2014, Israel launched a 51-day onslaught on the seaside territory on claims of undermining the capability of Palestinian factions to fire rockets into Israel.

At least 2,322 Palestinians were killed, including 489 women, and around 11,000 injured, including 302 women, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

“Day by day, conditions of Palestinian women in Gaza are going from bad to worse,” Agha said.

According to the Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling, a Palestinian NGO, around 600 women have suffered miscarriages in the latest Israeli assault on Gaza.

Some 791 women lost their husbands during the Israeli war in addition to 34,697 others, who were evacuated from their homes, the NGO said.

 Heavy price

Palestinian activist Mariam Abu Doka said that women are taking the full brunt of the Israeli blockade on Gaza.

“Gaza women are paying the heaviest price for wars and the blockade,” Abu Doka, a member of the Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), told Anadolu Agency.

She appealed to the international community to provide help to Palestinian women.

“Every March 8, the wounds of women, who were detained, wounded or lost their husbands, are reopened,” she said.

On Tuesday, the Palestinian women union said that more than 63 percent of women in the Gaza Strip are unemployed.

In a statement, the union said that 2015 was the toughest year for Gaza women due to the decade-long blockade and Israeli assaults.

“Gaza women dream of living in peace without wars and tragedies” Abo Doka said.

(Source / 08.03.2016)

Israeli gov’t seeks to legitimize settlement on private land

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– The anti-settlement group Peace Now has accused the Israeli government of seeking to legitimize settlement construction on privately owned Palestinian lands in the West Bank. According to Peace Now on Tuesday, the Israeli government told the higher court about its position on the petition filed by the group for the evacuation of 17 housing units in a settlement outpost known as Derekh Ha’avot near Bethlehem city. The government asked the court to consider only 10 housing units in this outpost retroactively legal. More than 10 years ago, the government declared that construction in the outpost was carried out illegally. Peace Now expressed hope that the higher court would reject the government’s violation of its previous commitments in this regard and demand it to immediately evacuate the illegal outpost, which was built in February 2001.

(Source / 08.03.2016)

Syrian Coalition Calls on PYD to Side With Revolution against Assad and ISIS

Vice-President of the Syrian Abdul Hakim Bashar called upon the PYD elements to join the ranks of the Syrian people and fight alongside the Free Syrian Army.

“Your commanders are trading in your blood and showing disregard for your blood for the sake of defending the tyrannical Assad regime which has long pursued a policy of repression, arrest, assassination, starvation, and displacement against the Syrian Kurdish population,” Bashar said addressing the PYD militiamen.

“Your leaders do not have a clear national agenda but follow a regional agenda. You are the grandsons of Kawa and Salahuddin: Your weapons must be directed against the tyrant Assad, his militias and ISIS, not against the free people of Syria. Killing a single free Syrian is tantamount to the killing of all Kurds,” Bashar added.

Bashar reiterated the Syrian Coalition’s insistence on the departure of Assad and his clique and referring them to a national court to receive just punishment for the crimes they have committed against the Syrian people. He stressed that the foreign militias Assad has brought to Syria will fail to protect him from the wrath of the people and their will to liberate their homeland.

“Our top priority is boosting the steadfastness of our people by working to provide the means that sustain their resilience, most importantly food, clothing, and medicine as well as weapons for rebel fighters.”

Bashar pointed out that the Syrian Coalition is working to procure international support for the revolution of the Syrian people until they achieve victory.

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 08.03.2016)